We’ve all seen the open letters and blog posts dedicated to shaming parents off of their phones, but it’s rare to hear it straight from the mouths of babes.
One little boy got sick of waiting for his mom to look up from her phone, so he had a unique solution. He fined her. What’s an appropriate fine for not paying close enough attention? About $13 quintillion, as it turns out.
It’s a hefty fine, but the unusually high number coupled with the angry child scrawl and the sarcastic well wishes at the bottom is proof that kids think in extremes. You shouldn’t have much trouble imagining the scenario play out, because we’re all guilty of it to some extent: You think you’ll check just one email or look “really quick” at your Twitter feed, tasks that are set against the background of “Mom. Mom. Hey, mom. Mommy. Mom, look. Look at this.”
Eventually you either look up or your kid stomps off, usually the former. Most of us have been accused of not paying attention by our kids at some point or another, and sometimes they even have a point.
But for the most part, it’s the polarity of the way kids think that lead to 21-figure fines. You could literally spend all day at the playground, come home and play LEGOs in a blanket fort and do some hard-core Play-Doh crafts, but as soon as you sit down to take a technology break, all of that goes out the window. You’re not paying attention now, which must mean you pay attention never, right?
Some of the comments on the Reddit thread hit that nail on the head pretty succinctly. One commenter, SlurmzMcKinley, recalled their own childhood frustration:
“I remember getting pissed off when my mom stopped paying attention to me and watched Oprah. In that case, I would have done the same thing this kid did. Looking back, I don’t think complete control of my life would be a good thing. Kids need time alone to be creative and provoke their own questions.
Yes, kids should come first. But parents can take a breather. And kids need one too.”
A few other people also piped up to add that kids have a habit of blowing stuff like this out of proportion. One recalled their toddler threatening to tell the police that they were “bad” for telling them to eat dinner.
And it’s true: If you haven’t gotten an angry note like this one yet, just wait. It’s really only a matter of time.
Most of those commenters were standing up in defense of the mom, though, because other users were ready to form their own negative conclusions (it is Reddit, after all) that encompassed everything from severe childhood neglect to garden-variety crappy momming to “Cat’s in the Cradle”-type rhetoric.
By now, that stuff is pretty yawn-worthy. We’ve been forwarded tons of “think pieces” on the demon screen, been subjected to countless scold posts and urged from every corner of the Internet — yes, just think about that for a second — to get off the Internet.
Maybe this mom really wasn’t paying attention. Or maybe she sneaked off for just a second to catch up on work or friends. It’s probably a safe bet to assume that getting a note like this one either amused or startled her enough to put her phone away. Because while she has probably already been subjected to alarmist “you’re messing your kids up by looking at Instagram” invective from all sides, the only perspective that really matters is her son’s, skewed though it may be.
At least one person had some good advice for her, though:
“Kids don’t understand that 112 quintillion dollars is excessive. See if you can negotiate it down to fifty billion.”